Adjusting to university life


You need to step out of your comfort zone and begin the introductions rather than wait for others to initiate them. Everyone is new and wants to find a good friend. Now is not the time to give in to shyness or fear that you will be rejected. There may be someone who is just waiting and hoping someone will want to get to know them too.

Unpack your mind.

This is the time you feel ready to unpack your mind. Up until now you have been in the survival mode. You’ve been busy taking in all that is new and different, learning the social and cultural rules of the new community. Things are no longer overwhelming and chaotic, but you may still have your moments of self-doubt.

Don’t be surprised when, after the dust settles from the chaos of transition, you begin to succumb to coughs, colds, flu, or other physical ailments. Your body has been producing constant amounts of adrenaline to respond to the stress associated with this stage, and just when you are beginning to feel a bit more comfortable in your new environs and are more relaxed, you start feeling the effects of being in such a heightened state of alertness and readiness for so long. Your protective reflexes are down, tired out, and you start to feel fatigued or become ill. Now is the time to take care of yourself.


Once the heightened alertness of the survival mode settles down, you begin to find the time, energy, and interest to really connect with people. Up to this point, your relationships have been fairly superficial. You have been meeting so many people at once and been receptive to all of them, but you haven’t had the opportunity to develop deep relationships just yet.

Although you have the desire to settle in, it is still a stressful time. It is important to prevent stress from building up and impacting your body by getting enough sleep, eating well, and getting some exercise. Spend time doing things you enjoy and bring you energy. Before you know it, this place will begin to feel more like home.


Special thanks to Tina L. Quick for providing us with this article. Tina is the author of two extraordinary books dedicated to international students going to study in America: Survive and Thrive: The International Student’s Guide to Succeeding in the U.S. and The Global Nomad's Guide to University Transition.